This is the first in a series of school counselor advocacy stories that will run online as a counterpart to the school advocacy stories running in Counseling Today’s Counselor, Educator, Advocate column.
ESL teacher Wendy Kotz and Jason Cordova, a school counselor, submitted the following story about school counselor Diana Wildermuth:
Diana Wildermuth, a professional school counselor at Kennett High School in Kennett Square, Pa., has been pivotal in assisting our English language learning population to help students reach their true academic potential.
Several years ago after reviewing research, Diana and our department felt it would be in the best interest of the students if they had a counselor they could go [to] that understands the unique needs of English language learners. Diana would come into our classrooms to welcome the students to make them feel comfortable in their transition to the United States and coordinate groups for Latino students. Our student population is very diverse. However, we have a large Latino population, which makes up 36 percent of our high school and 10 percent of those students are ESL. Diana has not only her caseload of students assigned by alphabet but also monitors all ESL student schedules, reviews ACCESS scores and grades, and assists in making decisions to best support each student. She is always accessible to our students and will go above and beyond her job responsibilities to make sure the student is receiving the best services and working their hardest. Diana has helped students through difficult times, whether it be the death of a friend, family member, family issue or they just [need] someone to talk to. She has helped students with future aspirations of the “American dream” to go to college, developed a career curriculum, coordinated groups on ethnic identity (through Villanova University) and keeps up to date on laws pertaining to immigration, the DREAM Act and the DEFERRED Act.
An obstacle that she and many educators have faced is budget constraints. In the hard economic times, and [with] educational budget cuts, it has been difficult for us all to get the programs or extra support in place. She helped in advocating on why our department needed an additional teacher. Now, this year, we have a third person. She is a true advocate for our department and our students.
Diana is currently pursuing her doctorate to help advance counselors in the field to understanding what motivates students who are foreign-born versus those born in the United States. She coordinates and collaborates with all to help our school be a better place. We will miss her in the spring when she is on sabbatical.